How to predict issues, handle them, and avoid them in the first place.

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

It’s 1am. I should be asleep, but I’m not. Instead, I’m trying to talk around a client on the other side of the world who is threatening to leave a bad review on my account.

He’s not actually unhappy with the work. He is simply using the threat of a bad review to get additional work out of me that he hasn’t paid for. I’ve tried to convince him that if he wants additional work, then he’ll have to pay for it. But he isn’t budging. …

Prevent clients from ghosting you and resurrect dead ends before it too late

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When you are freelancing, your clients are the lifeblood of your business. Without clients, you’ve no work. With no work, there’s no income. Bad news.

Some clients are regulars and will keep coming back for work over and over again. These are the holy grail of most freelancers' careers. Whereas others can be more difficult to lock down. In other words, they’re flaky. Sometimes this can be a warning sign of a client that doesn’t know what they want, other times they might simply need a little encouragement with the right pitch for the job. …

Doing multiple things badly isn’t called productivity.

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Like many busy people, I always want to achieve more in less time. While the day is reliably always 24 hours long, the list of things to do seems to be ever-increasing.

Multi-tasking is a tempting proposition to get more things done in the same amount of time. The problem is that multi-tasking is a counter-productive lie, which actually makes us less productive and produces sub-standard work.

Multi-tasking is something we tell ourselves we are doing when we want to feel productive. …

How to avoid lying about tomorrow for a better today

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“Never put off until tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” — Mark Twain

A few months back I had to hang a mirror in my living room. It was not a complex job, but it took me 3 months to do. As it sat there gathering dust, the people around me questioned why it wasn't done. Was there something else I needed? Was it difficult to hang? The answer to all these reasonable assumptions was ‘no’.

The real answer was I simply didn’t want to do it, because I was convinced I’d get it wrong…

The problem with non-fiction publishers, and how writers can deal with it

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In my opinion, the best films are 90 minutes or less. I’m not alone. For a long time, Hollywood favored this approach, aiming to deliver “90-Minute Magic” with all its output. Producers hypothesized that audiences would lose interest, leave, or simply wouldn’t attend in the first place if it had an excessive run time. This encouraged scriptwriters to trim all the fat from the plot. Get in, give the story, get out — allowing 30 minutes for each stage.

Putting this kind of restriction on storytelling helps to keep things tidy, stopped the story from getting too complex, and held…

A simple lesson to prevent being overwhelmed

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This is a story about a squirrel. Well mostly. It’s also about the band, The White Stripes.

While neither of these is a conventional source of wisdom, one of the band’s songs strikes a chord every time I hear it due to its powerful and practical message about problem-solving. Despite hearing it for the first time nearly 20 years ago, I still use the technique.

“Little Acorns” appears on the White Stripes’ Elephant album. It’s 4 minutes and 9 seconds of unadulterated weirdness. You can take a listen here if you need proof.

Anyway, onto the squirrel.

The start of…

Why it doesn’t pay to low-ball your work

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

I know absolutely nothing about wine. As far as I’m concerned, there’s white wine, red wine, and rosé — which I presume is created when they mix the other two together in a vat? Yet despite knowing nothing about the stuff, there’s one thing I can be relied on to do; I will always go for the $20 bottle over the $10 one. I’m presuming there’s something, reflected in the price, that makes it better.

This can be distilled into a very simple principle of social psychology. A principle that is highly applicable to your freelancing services:

The more we…

Getting your work seen is more important than perfection

Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

“Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.”

-Sylvia Plath

When it comes to writing, I’m a terrible perfectionist. There I’ve said it. I don't like putting work out unless it’s perfect. I will painstakingly edit, re-edit, and rephrase until every word on the page is the best it can be.

It’s a sickness.

I blame my degree in English language which encouraged obsession with deconstructing and reconstructing language rather than focusing on the message it’s trying to convey. It’s like pulling apart and re-building an antique clock. While people admire a thing of beauty, all people actually care about…

Lessons from taxidermy on how to live a fulfilling life

Photo by Gerald Schömbs on Unsplash

In 1991, the artist Damien Hirst created a piece of art. It was essentially a massive pickled shark in a tank. The giant fish had been preserved in formaldehyde, allowing onlookers to see it from all angles, up close and personal. It was both terrifying and amazing. Go on, take a look.

The art caused a bit of an uproar. In part because it made people question if it was actually a piece of art or some kind of bizarre taxidermy. As with most modern art, armchair critics suggested that as ‘anyone could do it,’ then it couldn’t be art…

Make your writing more memorable, engaging, and satisfying to read.

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“Use 3 of them, it just sounds better that way.”

This was the best piece of advice I have ever received about improving my writing. It came from my English teacher when I was 10 years old and has stuck with me ever since.

Advertisers, copywriters, and storytellers know there is something deeply satisfying about phrases with 3 things in them. Consider some of the more memorable film titles (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) or marketing slogans (Snap! Crackle! Pop!). Noticed anything?

This method is everywhere

After my teacher’s advice, the more I looked, the more I saw this simple trick was…

Mark Allinson

Writer of words. Reader of things.

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